Dear All,

Well….we made it, and that’s testament only to the resilience and adaptability of mankind. I can safely say that this is by far the strangest year I have endured in my ½ century, and I think that’s probably a sentiment shared by most.

I don’t want to dwell on the negative nor regurgitate what we all read on News24, yet as an accountant I feel obliged to be accounting-ish as our year speeds to a close. I find it difficult to cast any meaningful projections for 2021 and give a brief summary of market indices to support the confusion.

Towards the end of February our JSE all share index was just over 58 000, and in the writers opinion, horribly overvalued at that price. On the news of lockdown this slumped down to just over 40 000 at the end of March signifying a drop of just over 30%. This however only lasted for a few days and then began climbing until yesterday when the ALSI broke through 60 000 for the first time ever. What makes the statistic crazy is that companies are producing terrible results, which is expected when 20 to 25% of their trading year was lost. In addition to this, mass retrenchments and rarity in bonus payments have left consumers with little cash to lavish in the shops this Christmas.

Bitcoin broke the $20 000 mark last week. Increasing numbers of ‘get rich quick’ schemes are popping up using Bitcoin as a base. If not scams the writer is doubtful that they are sustainable at the very best. As people are increasingly financially distressed they are being more easily lured into these ‘investments’ which may well end badly for them.

Once again the rand has chosen to move against popular opinion and strengthened against the dollar bringing it back through R15 and recording a rate of R14.67 as at the time of writing. So the rand is showing strength at a time when we have been downgraded to the lowest levels in recent history, our borrowings are elevated due to the social cost of COVID-19 and our unemployment is spiralling upwards ringing ominous inflationary bells.

One of the only expected movements is that of gold, which blasted its way through the $2 000 in August this year. When times are uncertain people often move into the safe haven of gold and other commodities.

The list of inconsistencies are seemingly endless and the only premise that they support is that of uncertainty. I will continue to hold the conservative line, as in times of uncertainty we need to be increasingly wary in our financial dealings. As we adapt our lives, so then do the winds of change blow. If I have to predict anything, just as 2020 has been a year of survival, 2021 will now be the year of change and we will all need to deal with these changes in our respective businesses.

As we reach the conclusion of this year however, these are all things to put back in the drawer for our attention in 2021. Now is the time to refocus on family and friends, to give thanks for their good health and to reflect on those who had their lives cut short by the pandemic. Regardless of where this festive season finds you, you need to recharge those batteries properly in order to face the year ahead effectively.

So without belabouring the point any further, Shireen and I, as well as our amazing team (Shireen and I are really proud of them, they have all been stars), wholeheartedly wish you an event free Christmas and New Year. If the season takes you on the roads be vigilant and remember to wear a mask!

Our offices close on Tuesday 22 December and reopens on 07 January 2021.
Chris, Shireen and the MRM Team